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Old 21-06-2019, 09:18   #1
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Wharram Thoughts

James Wharram will have a place in history for bringing the Polynesian style catamaran to the attention of the sailing world, and inspiring many people to build and sail these double canoes with open decks and lashed beams, which have proven very seaworthy.



Much of the seaworthiness comes from a low center of gravity, and large beam, and good bridge deck clearance, all things Wharrams offered when other cats were narrow and tall.... and consequently unstable....... I wonder how many Wharrams if any have ever capsized? Probably a few, as there are thousands of them out there.


The romance of the Wharram is the Polynesian styling and technology, which to me appears more aesthetic than practical in many respects. If a Wharram looked like a Simpson or one of Richard Woods designs, the Wharrams would soon lose their passionate following. They would not be unique. It cannot be argued that they work, and that they are exceptionally seaworthy. Batten down the hatches, strap into your berth, and take a fist full of "happy drugs", and you could probably ride out a tropical cyclone unscathed in a well built Wharram ;-)


In terms of practicality from MY point of view, the flexible lashings make no sense whatsoever. They have been proven, but so have rigidly attached beams, particularly when a low profile (windage) bridge deck cabin is used. How many Simpsons or Kelsalls have broken up at sea? Probably none. The Gunboat that was abandoned offshore a number of years ago, had the bridge deck cabin entirely wiped off, by storms, but was found drifting, otherwise essentially intact years later. People who have moved the catamaran forward have NOT used lashed beams. Richard Woods Eclipse, abandoned off Central America in a major storm, weathered the storm entirely undamaged......... Likewise Ramtha in the Queen's Birthday Storm, and several others.
The truth is that rigid beams have more than proven themselves.... why stick to lashings? A number of Wharram builders have made their boats rigid, or more or less rigid by various means, the most recent one I ran across used chains in place of lashings (to good effect), a number have used steel straps, and some apparently are simply bonded permanently into the structure. Carbon tow might be a good option as well....... Flexible joints simply are not necessary, and their only *real value is the ability to take the boat apart easily, otherwise they are of aesthetic value only IMHO.


The double-ender design is one of the least rational features in light of what has been learned about catamaran design. Testing and experience show that increasing stern displacement relative to bow displacement results in greatly improved longitudinal stability..... as far as hobby horsing. The fuller stern dampens out the motion. The fuller stern also greatly improves accommodations. The result is that Wharrams must be much longer to achieve the same hull accommodations as other designs.

This is not something I've ever seen a Wharram builder change, though altering the bulkheads aft of the main cabin to make them fuller, bringing the keel upward to meet the waterline at the stern, and adding a transom, would presumably make an improved boat.



Start with the Tiki 38 design use rigid beams, chop 3' off the stern, add a transom, alter the shape a bit, bring the keel line up to the WL at the stern, raise the cabin sole 18" or so, raising the coach roof for head room to compensate for the raised floor, build out the inboard side of the hulls at bridge deck level to give countertop space, and seating on the deck, and you end up with palatial accommodations (8' wide in each main cabin), still have low windage & open bridge deck. Someone did that quite a few years ago.......... but didn't of course call it a Wharram or a Tiki....


So why didn't James Wharram do that? I would maintain that it was because that wasn't his "style", and the boat would not look like a Wharram. If people love them, and are building them, why change? "If it ain't broke don't fix it".......... Folks are still building Wharrams...... would they build "improved Wharrams"? Kind of like the failure of "improved catsup", when Heinz developed a way to prevent it burning on the sides of the kettle....... people didn't like the "improved flavor".



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Old 22-06-2019, 17:45   #2
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

Itís like trying to make better Guinness, you just donít bother.

Iím not so sure Iíd agree with wide beam and good clearance especially the latter.
The lack of volume in the stern is for sailing downwind, tradewind sailing, so the stern doesnít lift and drive the bow in.
If you fatten the stern you also have to add volume to the bow so now itís harder to build.
Low centre of gravity for sure, low freeboard and low undersized rig, although again in trade winds itís about right.
V hulls and low windage get it to windward.
Itís a package where the sum is greater than the parts and thatís why people love them.
And they have charisma in spades.
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Old 22-06-2019, 22:30   #3
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

A lot of Wharram discussion here.
https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/a...tiki-21.62252/
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Old 25-06-2019, 18:12   #4
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

And here;
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...quired-!/page4
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Old 25-06-2019, 18:41   #5
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

Wharram probably realized in a multihul, where the hulls are subjected to much higher torsional loading of the hulls than occurs in a monohull, that structurally the double ender is far superior in resisting the twisting actions than a hull with a transom. From a structural engineering viewpoint both ends of the hull are "triangulated".

Similarly with the beam fixtures to the hulls. The bindings provide a simple and effective means of spreading and transmitting the compressive loadings onto the beam and hull materials. You can generate an enormous amount of evenly loaded compression using multiple wraps of elastic materials, which is why winch drums need to be heavily constructed.
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Old 25-06-2019, 21:23   #6
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

My Tiki 30 used "trucker straps" rather than rope lashings. These wide belts were tightened and adjusted using a ratchet device. Worked perfectly.

Wharams are wonderful boats, very well thought out and efficient within their design brief. James knows what he is doing. Yes, there are other catamarans, some very close to Wharram designs. I believe that Richard Woods was once a Wharram apprentice and initially used many Wharram concepts and principles in his designs.
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Old 26-06-2019, 00:53   #7
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

canoe sterns on wharrams facilitate the unique attachment of the rudders with rope lashings.easy to repair,very effective,with no mechanical parts to rust or wear.
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Old 26-06-2019, 03:29   #8
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

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Originally Posted by atoll View Post
canoe sterns on wharrams facilitate the unique attachment of the rudders with rope lashings.easy to repair,very effective,with no mechanical parts to rust or wear.
And they are extremely low friction even under high loads.
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Old 26-06-2019, 20:06   #9
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

I'm no luddite, but neither am I addicted to the latest and greatest technology.


The rudder point is a good one.... Simple and reliable, and easy to repair. Rudder issues and dismastings, are two of the most common major crisis cruisers face. A reverse transom with steps does not lend itself to a simple lashed rudder installation. The angle of the rudder due to the canoe sterns would seem to mitigate some of the problems of a surface piercing rudder.
On the other hand there are several good solutions to allow break away rudders with the hull as an end plate, and the farther aft a rudder is, the more subject it is to losing it's authority in rough conditions.... rudders on boats do not work well in air ;-)
A rudder stock and bearing assembly often pierce the hull, creating a potential flooding risk in a strike. There is also the issue of construction of the rudder & shaft. This integrity is often a problem when materials get water logged, and a bent rudder stock cannot be removed from the top.


The price for the reliability and simplicity of the Wharram rudder.... the canoe sterns, no transom steps, reduced internal space for the length of the boat / more materials for a given space, and hobby horsing ( reported ).



The price for transom steps, an efficient under hull rudder, and increased space in the hull for a given LOA, and better ride........ a rudder with a stock that is subject to bending, and cannot be serviced without getting under the boat........ and that can be mitigated by design...... and there is the dependence on the local machine and welding shop when things go wrong.


......... The various factors go into the scales, and we apply a bit of "thumb pressure" to one side or the other........ it's highly individual. What matters to me may not matter to you, or vice versa.....(which side I put my thumb on ;-)....



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Old 26-06-2019, 20:45   #10
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

Owly,
Open the link and go to the ďracingĒ page 17 and check out the ďracingĒ Tane, I think youíll find it interesting.
http://pca.colegarner.com/SeaPeople-002.pdf
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Old 27-06-2019, 01:17   #11
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

Reminds me of the 27' Tane me and my hippie mate bought for $350 in 1971. Possibly the worst-built Wharram ever, but we didn't know that.

We knew nothing about sailing, we just knew that on a Wharram we'd end up under some palm trees with a bunch of naked women and a big bag of weed.
Our first time off the mooring after months of amateurish clueless work resulted in 20 minutes of panic followed by a last-minute rescue tow off a rocky nasty lee shore by the yacht club mooring taxi boat.

We dragged it up the yacht club ramp, using two logs and a few old tyres, some homeless fellows we bribed with wine, and a 1948 Buick. We parked it in a corner of the yacht club car park. We weren't members. We ran out of money and stopped visiting the boat. A few months later the yacht club chopped up the rotten thing and had the pieces hauled away.

Other Wharram owners have had more positive outcomes.
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Old 27-06-2019, 04:18   #12
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

Wharram dosent sell boat plans he sells dreams! He sold me that dream a dozen + years ago. I knew nothing about boats, I found a wrecked tiki 31 and started fixing, polynesian islands and polynesian women here I come..lol.

Well I'm not on that boat these days,but I am at a tropical island and I do have a polynesian women on board.

Would never own a Wharram again but still have a soft spot for them.Click image for larger version

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Old 27-06-2019, 04:40   #13
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pirate Re: Wharram Thoughts

Owned two, still love em but.. these days need bigger than 21&26ftrs..
A Tiki 38 would be perfect though.
Wharrams concept is simplicity whereas your fixed beams and square sterns take away the core principles that make the boats so independent.. a few coils of line, basic hand tools and your good to go.. just pull up to a beach for repairs.. not a yard for a lift out.
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Old 27-06-2019, 06:10   #14
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Owned two, still love em but.. these days need bigger than 21&26ftrs..
A Tiki 38 would be perfect though.
Wharrams concept is simplicity whereas your fixed beams and square sterns take away the core principles that make the boats so independent.. a few coils of line, basic hand tools and your good to go.. just pull up to a beach for repairs.. not a yard for a lift out.

^^^ This. Especially for tropical cruising.

There are lot's of threads here about cruising on a budget, and how to keep ongoing costs down, but sometimes the big picture concept is not always thought through.

Wharrams don't need to be crap. Get a nice one (but still save money on the boat compared to a normal cat) and:

- Use the money saved to add a substantial LiPo battery bank.

- Install a big hard roof with a lot of solar panel capacity across the open main deck area, which is very large because of the no bridge deck design.

- Fit drop down plastic curtains for wet days and a (hard?) dodger forward for spray protection but otherwise leave open for ventilation in the tropics.

- Even on the Tiki 38 this would create enough space for a sailing cockpit, a large table (who wants to eat below in the tropics) and a sunpad and socialising area. Because of the more open design the deck space can be reconfigured for different scenarios and the hard roof gives you the necessary shelter from both rain and sun.

- See what's possible with LiPo and a lot of solar here (even if it's on a more limited scale than this boat): Merged LiFeYPO4 1000Ah Winston prismatic cells and all electric galley...

- Save money every single day using no (or very little) fuel or even propane gas for charging batteries or cooking (use simple inductions hobs)

- With this power capability install a washing machine of some description (and a water maker of course, that is a given). This might sound like heresy for some, but laundry ashore is expensive and inconvenient so it will soon pay for itself and really add to self sufficiency when living aboard (eg: I'm surprised that La Vagabond, with a million dollar cat, good income stream, battery and solar capacity, and a new baby, doesn't think a washing machine is beneficial?)

- Add the simple Wharram wind vane self steering. Cheap, easy to repair, no special parts, you fit 2 (one on each hull) so you always have a back up, and they use no electricity. See here: (and here La Vagabond who have been without their autopilot for quite some time and will now need to fly a specialist B&G technician down to the Bahamas to fix it, and were concerned for there sailing safety as single handed sailing without the autopilot is difficult: https://youtu.be/kWt64cmb8EM?t=671 This would easily blow a normal cruising budget for that month, or quarter..)

- Use two properly sized and properly installed outboards in retractable pods and have a honda generator for charging backup.

- This gives twin engines for maneuvering, a backup in case of a breakdown, reasonable cost, light weight, retractable for low sailing drag and drying out, and can even be winched off with a halyard and taken ashore for repairs if necessary, and a replacement (even a temporary ill fitting one) can be more easily dropped in place too.

- On a Wharram portable fuel tanks are normally located amidships on deck in vented lockers, and petrol outboard fuel is available anywhere in the world. This means only one fuel to carry and topping up can be done by just taking a normal outboard fuel tank or a jerry can ashore in the dinghy.

- The simple rig lends itself well to DIY dyneema, etc rigging solutions. Easy repair and maintenance and saves money as no need to pay a rigger.

- Many other parts of a w]Wharram also use simple line or block and tackle solutions. It couldn't be easier to fix, replace, or jury rig as necessary.

- As @boatman61 mentioned, dry out for underwater maintenance. And there are (or can be) less of these in the first place because of the rudder system, because no sail drives or shafts, because no centre boards, etc, etc. Combine that with a simplified and minimised through hull system and a lot of maintenance can be reduced.

If a haul out is necessary, no special travel lift or boatyard is required. A crane can easily be used, or a tractor, truck, etc to drag the boat up a simple ramp or shoreline.

I like all these positives for a Wharram or similar simple cat to sustain the cruising life over a longer period.

Some initial wise capital investments and planning need to be made of course, but these concepts can really reduce cruising costs, simplify life onboard, and get sailors out there cruising.

Let's not complicate it again by changing the whole design ethos of a Wharram cat.

My 2 cents
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Old 27-06-2019, 09:41   #15
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Re: Wharram Thoughts

Changing the "design ethos"???? Spoken like a true Wharram Acolyte. Again, lashed beams add NOTHING of value...... It's merely an attempt to hold true to ancient technology, and has the sole value of making it possible to "easily" break the boat down, likewise the canoe stern, which offers nothing except the dubious value of lashed rudders, and the flex would seem at least to effect standing rigging tension effecting the ability to set the sails properly.


The ultimate in simplicity is the free standing mast, and the junk rig....Low stresses, low maintenance, and low cost, but James abandoned the biplane junk rig in an early iteration claiming it did not work well on a catamaran, though many are sailing quite successfully with the biplane junk rig.......... In fairness, this was before the advent of the cambered panel junk rig, and split camber panel junk rig that resolves these issues. Take away all the standing rigging, and one takes away dozens of potential points of failure.... and that's huge!


What exactly is the "ethos"? Sticking to the traditional Polynesian "double canoe"...... How does a transom, which allows more internal space detract from that? One is simply chopping some useless space off, and bringing the keel up to the WL.... What would the Polynesians have done is presented with better options? The wheel is progress..... should we drag things around on skids because it is a stone age tradition?


I get it that folks like the traditional look of the Wharram boats.... Here is a photo of a smaller Wharram based boat with square sterns and lee boards. Note the absurd barn door rudders peaked up to mimic the double ender...Note also the width that is carried aft....... this looks like a perversion of the Wharram layout with what appear to be rounded hulls.... interesting at least.


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